If your relationship has reached breaking point and you are contemplating divorce proceedings, knowing where to start can be a minefield.
We have a team of specialist divorce solicitors who can guide and advise you every step of the way.
Our family law team is very approachable, highly-experienced and extremely professional in everything we do. We help to work through all aspects of divorce so that your finances are settled fairly and any children are cared for and considered at all times. We also have specialist international family law solicitors if you or your partner have ties abroad.
For more information and to make an appointment at our Southampton office please contact Debra Emery.
For Richmond and City appointments please contact Jan Galloway.
Facts for divorce
To secure a divorce you must have been married for more than one year and be able to satisfy the court that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.
To do so you need to establish one of five grounds upon which you can issue a petition, which are:
Two years' separation with consent
Five years' separation without consent
Desertion for two years or more
Stages of divorce
The process begins with one party, referred to as the petitioner, filing the petition at court supported by a statement of reconciliation (a pro-forma form your solicitor will complete) and your original marriage certificate. You will not get this back.
The court will send a copy of the sealed petition, together with an acknowledgement of service, by post to the respondent.
Once the acknowledgement is completed by the respondent, as long as there is no intention to defend, their role in this process comes to an end.
The petitioner then has to file a statement in support of the petition and a request to the court to grant the first decree, being the decree nisi. This is the first time the papers will go before a judge and until then, it is purely an administrative process. If all is in order, the judge issues a certificate of entitlement upon which a date for the pronouncement of the decree nisi is noted. It is not usually necessary for any party to attend upon that pronouncement as this is referred to as a 'paper stamping exercise'.
You can apply for the decree absolute, being the final decree after which you are able to remarry after a period of six weeks and a day has elapsed.
How long does it take to get a divorce?
Depending on the court and availability of court time, the divorce process can take some 18 to 24 weeks to secure. However, many people delay the application for the decree absolute until the finances are settled.
What are the court fees for applying for a divorce?
For a petition filed after July 2013, the court fee is £410 (please note these are the fees imposed by the court only).
Can the courts deal with your divorce; do they have 'jurisdiction'?
It is important to ensure that the courts in England and Wales are able as a matter of law to deal with your divorce. This is called 'having jurisdiction'.
The usual basis upon which to satisfy jurisdiction is that both parties are habitually resident in England and Wales. Matters get more complicated if that criteria cannot be established and in the main thereafter, you have to satisfy jurisdiction on the basis of being habitually resident in England and Wales and residing here for a period of at least one year. There are various other grounds but this is a specialised area of law.
If you are in any doubt about whether the courts of England and Wales can entertain your petition you should seek urgent advice as you may lose out on the opportunity to issue here and take advantage of the local laws on divorce, finances and children if your spouse takes steps to issue a divorce in another country.